Faith Matters: Christlim Nation or Mustian Nation?

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Psalm Chapter 2 Verse 1: “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth have gathered, and the rulers take council against the Lord and his anointed.”

The idea of The Christian Nation of Liberia was not conceived by “men of madness” as seems to be suggested by the “Me, Myself and I” State of Liberia that has sacrificed her young on the altar of self-aggrandizement. As a result, every morning there appears to be one new “crazy” young man or woman not only in the streets of Monrovia, but seemingly in the halls of power.

Why does the notion of a Christian Nation of Liberia seem to stir a firestorm of resentment? The reason is because it is an idea or a concept just as it was the concept and idea of the masses versus the elites that toppled the Second Republic, which started after the presidency of E. J. Roye.

So who is a “heathen”? A heathen is any Moslem or Christian who takes a sword against his brethren and does not seek forgiveness.

One day in this year 2016, Kewellen Dolley, a Moslem, and I went out looking for news. We wandered into the Capitol Building a place where news is made every moment. There was rancor in a room but we were allowed into the room just because we had a camera. There in that room the concept of the
Christian Nation of Liberia was being presented to the world by Monsignor Gabriel Jugbe, a Roman Catholic Prelate.

Let me introduce Father Jugbe. In 1977 the True Whig Party staged a drama on the life and times of President EDWARD James Roye. The drama, called “Deeds Not Words,” was written by Prince Refell, author of the “Black Mayflower”, and directed by Womi Bright, daughter of Robert I.E. Bright, Secretary
General of the True Whig Party. I played the colonist Adam Blackledge and received rave reviews. I even appeared in the September 1977 edition of the magazine Africa Now, a magazine with circulation all over Africa.

The True Whig Party in gratitude rewarded me with a job, Assistant Director of Broadcasting at the Ministry of Information, second only to Reginald Goodridge, Director of Broadcasting. I started work December 1, 1977 making $350 per month. In those days, there were no Liberian dollars. I was suddenly thrust into pole position to witness first hand rapid social and political change as we were becoming fascinated with the euphoria that accompanied an uprising.

We seemed to be experimenting with an uprising. The more we protested, the more we became irreversibly caught up in the events that would eventually lead to the total destruction of the country, Brother against Brother.

As the children of the settler class packed up and left the various ministries and the country in general because of the upcoming uprising, the nation fell into the grip of what seemed to be an angry and frustrated lot. It was this lot that I had to deal with to get my pay as they refused to even put my name on the payroll. This reverse prejudice was a result of my being recommended for the job by the True Whig Party. So by August 1978, broke, busted and nearly defeated, I left the ministry of Information and started retracing my steps back to Snapper Hill.

I met on my way Sylvester Ganti Blibo. He told me he had his visa and was going to America and that I should go and take his place as a teacher at Cathedral Catholic School. Well, I went and told the Principal, Sister Rose Gabriel Gadegbeku, and she was upset. She felt betrayed by Blibo and was unsettled with the entire transaction. However, she said it was Gala Day Month and if I could prepare the children for the occasion she would consider me.

Well Gala Day came and the program had no substance. I mean, I had come from being the host of the New Liberian program with the promise of US$350 and here I was about to become a teacher making US$75 a month. The horror of it all made me to fall flat on my face.

Sister Rose Gabriel seemed to strongly dislike the program that I had put together and told me she would not hire me and would make that official as soon as she got back from Buchannan. Well on the way back to Monrovia, Sister Rose Gabriel was killed along with two other nuns and the driver in a tragic
auto accident. The lone survivor was a young man studying to become a priest. His name was Gabriel Jugbe; that same Gabriel Jugbe was now, in 2016, Monsignor Gabriel Jugbe.

Monsignor Jugbe explained to a group of Legislators and Muslim clerics the purpose behind the Christian Nation of Liberia and how it posed no hindrance to Muslims or Jews.

The Moslems said, “anytime there is a program yor do not include us in this country and we remain quiet. But the one yor coming bring now the trouble yor looking for, yor will get it”.

I recorded the event as it unfolded and presented it to LNTV as part of their local content. When I met the Director for Television he said nothing about it. Well WE put the debate on YouTube. Minister Rita Townsend, sister of Moderator Townsend of the Presbyterian Church, called me and said “the program had gone viral”.

On April 12, 2016, I was invited to the Presbyterian Church to a meeting hosted by the National Council of Churches of Liberia (NCCL). This was the organization that gave birth to the idea of the Christian Nation of Liberia.

I was reluctant, to say the least, about attending the meeting. Bishop Hart of the Episcopal Church had refused this group an audience. Even Arch Bishop Lewis Ziegler of the Arch Diocese of Monrovia denounced them. To make matters worse, a Pastor at the meeting referred to Psalm 121 as the Psalm chosen by the Founders of the Republic of Liberia, seeming to rub salt in the perceived wounds of the already disgruntled non-Christian participants. The discontent was reaching a crescendo causing me to tune out when that same Pastor was asked to pray.

Like a rushing wind on the day of Pentecost the spirit descended on the Presbyterian Church on Broad Street. I was transported into the Heavens and saw what the National Council of Churches of Liberia had already seen. The power of that prayer worked to soothe the anxieties of all of the attendees. You see friends, God never gives a person a task that He has not already given him the tools to accomplish.

I continued at Cathedral School and in the mid-1980s, Edmund Okyne and Cephas Acotlatse came to me and asked me to organize a basketball team around them and put that team into the National League. The “Snappers” entered the league and played its first game. The day after, the headlines read
“Snappers Roasted by I.E.” After the second game the papers said “Snappers fried by Barolle”. I went into a funk and did not go to the third game. Well, Snappers won. Edmund Okyne and Cephas Acotlatse were both players on the team.

I put the team through a rigorous training for game four. As we prepared to pray before the game, Edmund said, “Busty (my nickname then), we do not want that prayer”.

I said, “Oh, Bishop Michael Francis was right across the street and you do not want a good Christian, Catholic prayer?!!? What prayer you want?” I asked fearful that I was about to lose the team to a new concept.

The entire team said they wanted Mahmoud Kaba, a Moslem, to pray. He turned his palms up to Heaven and prayed in Arabic. At the end of the prayer all my good Christian lads said “Amina”. I nearly laid an egg. Well they went out and won the game.

Came Saturday, I cooked for the team. We did not have enough spoons and as these Christians and Moslems shared the spoons I saw them smiling and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. I realized that in addition to a good team, lasting, lifelong friendships were being formed.

Perhaps the NCCL needs to invite the Moslems to their next meeting and pray like they did on April 12, 2016. Then they need to allow a Moslem to pray as Mahmoud did for Snappers in the 80s. I guarantee soon they all will start eating out of the same pan, and sharing spoons.

The Christian Nation of Liberia may not be born out of this, but lasting friendships will be forged. Remember the Moslem cleric at the Capital, “Your do not include us in anything.” Perhaps the Moslems want to be included in the formation of the Christian Nation of Liberia. Is anything too hard for God? Amen.

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